Linkedin Questions and answers

5-day design challenge

ABOUT THE PROJECT

This is a design challenge in which I was given a problem as a prompt and a rough hypothesis to start with, and do whatever makes sense to get to high fidelity mockup stage as final deliverables in 5 days.

PROMPT
LinkedIn enables professionals to be more productive and successful by helping them stay informed and build meaningful relationships.
A productive content ecosystem relies on a healthy balance of content contributors and consumers that share and learn knowledge about their industries, careers and professional interests.

For many members, however, it feels scary or risky to contribute to the platform since their actions are tied to their professional identities.

Design an experience that helps novice contributors overcome the barriers to sharing.
CONSTRAINT

Product design on top of an existing product

TIMELINE

Oct 2018

Final designs

“ A Quora experience within a professional setting, leading to casual sharing and mentoring opportunities.”
New content types: 1. Question you posted 2. Questions you could answer

Feedback on final design

How to control bad quality answers?

A reporting mechanism needs to be in place in order for us to prevent irrelevant low quality answers.

How to encourage people to ask?

Prompting people to ask is as important as prompting them to answer -- we can consider questions and answers as a two sided market.
An idea that came to me is that Linkedin.com could potentially show some sample questions first, in order to educate people that there's this new feature.

Research

Understand the problem statistically

I analyzed 50 random feed posts’ sources and found that only 16% of content comes from individuals, among which only 12.5% comes from non-influencer.
* Novice contributors— non-influencers (followers less than 2k)
I'm interested in improving the experience so that non-influencers could share more on Linkedin.

Prep for qualitative research

I observed people who’re currently actively sharing content versus not on Linkedin in my network. Used instant msgs to reach out to both groups.  In the end I was able to schedule 3 interviews over Hangout and 4 open surveys.

My goal for the qualitative research:
1. Understand the non-influencers more, in terms of their motivations and challenges
2. Watch out for other contributors to the problem

The research participants that I recruited had varied content sharing experiences on Linkedin.  One of the participants never shared any content on Linkedin, and one shares about 2-3 times a month. I believe that this group will give me a spectrum of perspectives. For those who're more active, I'd like to learn what their motivations are, and for people who rarely shares, I want to know what has prevented them from doing more often.

I also went through the user flow myself, trying to catch any usability flaws that might be fixed upfront. I find some minor issues, but don't think those are big contributors to the barriers to sharing.

Problems I found:
1. No way to exit the post window once you click in, which breaks the "forgiving" principle.
2. No consistent post settings across different post formats

Pre-research opportunity area ideation:
1. Use more friendly language
2. Give Inspirations for writing articles
3. Allow groupings in Connections --leading to more segmented post settings, more controls of who you share content with

Overall, I think the mobile experience feels more smooth and user friendly. The post article feature is taken out on mobile which makes sense to me. The Kudos feature allows user to give kudos to coworkers, which is really nice, but it's a bit hidden.

Interviews

I interviewed research participants over hangout, asking about latest experiences sharing content on Linkedin, and probe to see what holds back people from sharing more frequently. I also walked through the sharing content flow with the participants and observe, have them talk through what seems outstanding to them. The open survey is structured the same with the interview questions.

Synthesize research findings via affinity diagramming

Several topics forms organically through the making sense of the notes:  

Motivation & Need.
Perception of Feed.
Barriers to sharing
Problems after creation.
Crazy idea.

My focus is on Barriers to sharing, but all other topics are essential in order to have a holistic view of the problem space and the users.
I also found that most participants that I collected data from only post from their desktop, because they want their content to be perfectly curated and edited before sending out. Later, desktop became my focus in design.

Research Findings behind barriers to sharing
Persona

I moved on to create the main persona for novice contributors that I want this redesign to target at.

Strategic ideation

Opportunity area 1: Encourage the sharing of imperfect things.

a. Stories like instagram (temporary on the timeline) to encourage incremental sharing that is less formal.
b. (Algorithm) ranking articles on lessons learned or things that people are working on higher than self promotional content and success stories.e the sharing of imperfect things.

Opportunity area 2: Create more external stimuli for users to write and share

a. Similarly to Quora, user could ask questions as well as get prompted to answer questions, creating more opportunities for interaction.
b. User can get rewarded for answering questions

Opportunity area 3: Give user more control over who could see the post

a. Allow user to do groupings of his/her connections, provide better targeting of shared content

MVP Design direction

Build a Q&A mechanism on Linkedin to enable users to do light weight, less formal, on-demand content sharing, engage with people in the same field and ultimately foster an environment that is more helpful in career advancing.  

Job Stories

User flows

Wireframing and testing

I went on to design the medium-fi wireframes in sketch, prototyped with Invision and tested the idea and flow with 4 of my earlier research participants to get feedback.

User Feedback

1. About the flow : Users are confused about choosing Ask or Post

This is a solid concern and was addressed with combining Ask and Post, with a checkbox to post as a question in the final design.

2. Suggest to use gamification and rewards system to engage users

Although a good idea, I didn't have the time to incorporate it in the final design.
If I was given enough time, we could definitely gamify the experience by creating virtual rewards like titles, badges, allowing users to level up. e.g. Popularity of an answer could contribute to experience points.
I want to make sure that the gamification experience doesn’t interfere with user’s perception of the product, and it doesn’t mislead users in terms of navigation.

3. Consider Integrating with career advice and mentoring

If I had more time, it's definitely a good idea to entice the Asking experience with the Career advice(1 on 1 mentoring feature that Linkedin has) in some way.

4. Need to consider scalability, duplicate questions & answers

If I had more time, I will flesh out more on how to resolve repetitive questions. One thought that I had was to have a global repository of questions where people could search. And, when people are trying to post questions that might be similar to an existing questions, Linkedin.com could potentially give out suggestions to check out similar posts by others.

Closing thoughts

How to measure?

The amount of questions posted & answered/day

Technical Risks

The biggest risk lies in with technology. This feature requires Machine learning and nature language processing experts as well as data scientists. How does a questions smartly finds the relevant professionals to answer it? Designer will need to work closely with the developers and data scientists to make it work.

Overall I am really proud of what I came up within the limited time frame. If I had a bit more time, I'd like to spend it on exploring other opportunity areas in the ideation phase. I would also think deeper on how to gamify the experience as well as think of ways to prevent misuse of this feature.